BMW 335i The scene was set in Barstow, CA - two hours from Los Angeles and another two from Vegas - more than 300 BMW owners converged on an overflowing parking lot in the desert but what the hell is this BMW 335i doing here? We were at M-Fest 3 and most M owners snarled at the sight of 23 year-old Nick Lakind's non-M sedan.
As it sat under the harsh desert sun, with its matte black mask absorbing the heat, many people chuckled under the assumption this BMW couldn't hang with the M crowd. But you know what they say about assumptions...
You see, Nick's '07 335i isn't your average modified 3-Series. Like Rambo going into battle, his E90 is equipped with the right weapons to turn the smiles of M3 owners upside down.
The 3.0 bi-turbo motor has been dyno-tested up to 439whp. This is thanks to upgrades like software, catless exhaust, redesigned intake manifold and water/meth injection. So after M-Fest 3 we reconnected with Nick in Downtown Los Angeles to uncover this mysterious slaying machine.
From Mitsubishi Evos to Chevy Tahoes, Nick's been infatuated with modifying cars since he was old enough to drive. He had even owned a 5-Series but it wasn't customized to the extent of his 335i. "This is the first Euro I've gone crazy on," Nick stated. "I crashed my Evo twice; it was jinxed. So I wanted something as fast as an Evo but more comfortable. And it had to be a four-door as well; all my cars have been four-doors."
After a search for the perfect sedan, he visited his local BMW dealership and selected the 335i. A four-door M3 would have been the ultimate choice but "I chose the 335i because it was $30k less. And it's more tuneable for a lot less money. Plus, I love turbos," he explained.
With most factory turbo cars, the easiest way to gain horsepower is with software. So Nick contacted Burger Motorsports who set him up with its Juice Box piggyback harness. It remapped the ECU to preserve driveability without throwing engine codes. "I've seen cars dynoed with 60whp gains," Nick told us.
The next piece of the pie was the exhaust system. Riss Racing mid-pipes and catless downpipes were used to eliminate back pressure, while giving the 335i its pissed-off growl. The new stainless pipes improved top-end performance according to Nick. The 3" system was matched to Bastuck quad-tip mufflers for a more aggressive backside.
Maintaining the power became an issue, especially since Nick daily-drove his whip through the hot SoCal summers. So he was introduced to Fred Su at Evolution Racewerks (ER). The company specializes in fabrication, making exhausts and rollcages but especially, front-mount intercoolers like the one on our own Project Silverstone (et 9/06) and also its 135i racecar, which competed in the 100° heat of Super Lap Battle (et 3/09). Fred modeled the 335i intercooler on the race-proven cooling efficiency of ER's 1-Series product, and the rest is history.
After that, Nick continued to chip away at the N54 engine by installing at Stett cold-air intake, which relocated the cone filter down in the bumper. Forge diverter valves were also added to maintain boost pressure.
At this point, Nick dyno-tested the car using a mixture of race and pump fuel, producing 439whp. But he was thirsty for more, so revisited Evolution Racewerks. This time Fred suggested two more performance adders they'd used on their 1-Series racecar: ER's own intake manifold and Snow Performance water/methanol injection.
Fred installed the tank for the water/meth mixture in the trunk, while the controller on the center console manages how much liquid is injected into the intercooler system. This pulls heat away, allowing the motor to run more boost and ignition timing as if it was on higher-octane fuel.
Finally came the new intake manifold. "Torque hits very low on the stock N54, with peak numbers around 3000rpm," Fred informed us. "The problem with this when racing is that you tend to use the upper rev range, and even after a shift, you're not in that range. That meant we couldn't take advantage of our the torque, remaining at higher rpms where the torque curve drops off."
A simple solution would be shifting earlier to remain in the lower rev range but the torque tended to break the tires loose. So Fred devised a plan to move the torque curve higher up the rev range with a new manifold design. "We could alleviate the traction issues caused by the low peak torque. At the same time, it would yield higher peak torque and horsepower numbers," he concluded.
The intake plenum was enlarged because Fred discovered the relatively small volume of the factory manifold was what enabled the torque to hit so low. Having a larger plenum with shorter runners would feed more air into each cylinder while raising the torque curve. So Fred designed velocity stacks into each intake runner, which smoothed the airflow in the plenum.
With all the hardware fitted, Nick dropped his car at GIAC for a custom flash tune. They removed the piggyback system and the new software, still under development, is estimated to give the car nearly 400whp on California's poor 91-octane fuel. This would give the 335i enough force to walk past the E92 M3 or Audi RS4. In fact, Nick's 335i is one of the quickest on the road that hasn't changed to bigger turbochargers.
Possessing so much power, Nick allowed Advanced Cluch Technology to use his car to develop its street performance kit. The ACT clutch and flywheel combination are capable of withstanding up to 550hp.
Giving the chassis its racer stiffness were KW V3 coilovers. Lucent Motors installed the suspension before aligning and corner-balancing the car.
Not just about acceleration, Nick's 335i can stop just as quickly with 14" slotted rotors and six-piston StopTech calipers up front. Falken FK-452 tires ensured the sedan wouldn't lose traction during the hard braking or cornering.
The car's murderous appearance adds to its mystique. "I'd wanted to do flat black forever. Originally I was going to paint it but I didn't want to spend that much money only to depreciate the car's value," he told us.
Nick discovered Vinyl Styles in San Francisco. He delivered his Jet black car to the company and a week later the satin vinyl result was breathtaking. Nick's exterior resembled paint so well it fools nearly everybody that comes into contact with it. And if circumstances changed where he had to sell the car, he could remove the wrap and uncover the factory paint.
Underneath the vinyl wrap, the body was treated to M-Tech bumpers and skirts, plus a 3D Studie front lip and carbon rear diffuser.
The final piece of the puzzle was the wheels. "I had BBS CHs for two years but I wanted something more aggressive with stepped lips," Nick explained. So he found a set of Japanese SSR SP1 wheels, which arrived in gloss black with chrome lips. They were then painted satin black to match the exterior. The sizes were 19x9" front and 19x10.5" rear. Giving a motorsport feel, Nick used extended lugs and no center caps.
Opening the doors, Nick preserved the stealthy interior. An M-Tech steering wheel was fitted along with BMW Performance e-brake handle and shift boot. In the center console, a 3D Studie gauge pod houses three gauges. And as a final touch, the stock aluminum trim was wrapped in carbon fiber.
Every modification on Nick's 335i serves a purpose and he's shown us that flat black is still badass. And best of all, he's proven to the BMW community that his 335i shouldn't be taken lightly, especially if you happen to be driving an M3.
Engine: 3.0 liter twin-turbo straight-six with GIAC, Evolution Racewerks aluminum intake manifold, front-mount intercooler and carbon engine cover, Stett Performance cold-air intake, dual Forge Motorsport diverter valves, Bastuck quad-tip rear mufflers, Riss Racing cat-less downpipes, mid-pipes and intake scoops, Snow Performance water/methanol injection
Drivetrain: six-speed manual with BMW Performance short shift kit, ACT clutch and flywheel
Brakes: StopTech big brakes with 14'' slotted rotors and six-piston calipers
Suspension: KW Variant 3 coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 19x9'' front, 19x10.5'' rear SSR Professor SP1 wheels, Muteki neo-chrono extended lugs, 235/35 R19 front and 265/30 R19 rear Falken FK-452 tires
Exterior: M-Tech front bumper with 3D Studie lip, M-Tech side skirts and rear bumper with 3D Studie carbon diffuser, OE Euro headlights with MyCarr angel-eye lights, Blackline tail lights, yellow foglights, matte black grilles, black roundels, Shadowline trim, Vinyl Styles satin black vinyl wrap
Interior: M-Tech steering wheel, 3D Studie gauge pod with boost, oil pressure and EGT gauges, carbon trim
Thanks: Lucent Motors, Euro Dyne, MFest, mom, brother, Tasha